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Local teachers adapt extracurricular programs to virtual learning

Posted at 6:59 AM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 09:59:57-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — From postponed sports seasons to virtual classes, our schools are definitely in for a unique start to the school year, and activities like band or theater are facing big changes too.

Local teachers have spent all summer adapting their extracurricular programs to the changes our schools are making in light of COVID-19. They’re making the most of it, and say students need these creative outlets now more than ever.

Sheila McClure teaches theater at Golden Valley High School and says despite classes going virtual, students are anxious to start another year of theater.

“They need the arts more now than I think we have ever needed it. This is their outlet. This is their way of coping," said McClure.

Which is why she’s adapting as much of her curriculum as she can to an online platform.

“It’s the same stuff. It’s just performed a little differently," said McClure.

Heather Brandon teaches theater at Bakersfield High School and says she already has her fall production planned using Zoom and video editing.

“We really took the approach of not thinking about, and focusing on, the things we can’t do, but the opportunities of the things that we can do," said Brandon.

McClure and Brandon say some students are saddened by how different this year will be, and others are looking forward to what their teachers have planned. Either way, the two women are excited for the opportunities going virtual offers, like the ability to easily bring in guest speakers.

“The barriers that were in our way of transportation, time, space in our auditoriums, all of that’s gone," said Brandon.

At Stockdale High School, instrumental directors Geofrrey Ruud and Amanda Sproul are taking a similar approach.

"Just trying to make the learning experience positive for the students in any way that we can. The collaboration of music is such a big part of what we do so trying to find ways to do that online is really important to both of us," said Sproul.

From Zoom breakout rooms to recordings of musical instruments, there are several resources Sproul and Ruud are using to guide each student.

“Trying to make sure that we can give feedback to every single kid, at least as much as we can. Reaching every single kid, making sure that there’s nothing that falls through the cracks," said Ruud.

Sproul says there is hope for future performances.

“Our technology is amazing now so [we] have a lot of opportunities to still get the music out to our families and our community in the future, so we’ll be brainstorming and we’ll be creative with that," said Sproul.

Creativity that will help students flourish despite the pandemic.